God Counts Those Men Discount


August 20, 2017

Pastor Mark Bradshaw

 

“It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.”

 

I think we can safely assume that our Lord is tired.

John had lost his head, and now Jesus has lost his cool.

And who can blame him, everytime he tries to get away for some quiet someone sees him, and before long there is a crowd pressing in.

 

The people are desperate and in need and Jesus is full of compassion and God has made it evident that through Jesus healing flows. Then one day Jesus decides he needs to get up and go, head to the coast and outside of the borders of Israel where he can enjoy that sweet Mediterranean breeze, put his feet in the sand and watch the sunset. Perhaps Jesus was feeling overwhelmed, weary under the weight of it all. The more people he healed the more aware he became of how many were still in need. For every lost sheep that our Good Shepherd carried back into the fold there seemed to be two new wolves, ready to devour. And so Jesus, feeling hemmed in, goes on a retreat. Jesus decides to practice a little self care, hoping for a certain level of anonymity. Yet, and notice this, whereas Jesus was seeking to find refreshment and renewal outside of his borders geographically, God sends someone to Jesus who is outside of his ethnic and social borders in order to get him back on track. To put it bluntly, God sends his Son a woman to set him straight… to expand his borders… to increase his imagination… to broaden his perspective.

 

In the television industry, it really has become a type of art to recap the previous episodes of a season, often in only 1-2 minutes, as a means of bringing the viewer up to speed. The current episode plays a specific role within the overall story and the reason for the opening recap is to refresh the audience’s memory as to how it relates to a few specific strands within the overall story line.  

 

Now, at first glance it is surprising that this morning’s Gospel made it past the final edits. Any of you wish this was a deleted scene, clearly out of character for Jesus?  And yet, as we may be standing here scratching our heads the observant disciple will discover that there is a trail of breadcrumbs that has been left for us to follow.

 

So here it is, our opening recap:

Jesus appointed how many disciples?

The women with the bleeding infirmary, who reached out and touched the hems of Jesus’ robe and was healed – how many years had she been sick?

That happened while Jesus was on his way to heal a young girl who was how many years old?

Okay, are you picking up what Matthew is shoveling? So, why 12?

  • 12 tribes of Israel.

So, in our Gospel this morning we heard Jesus’ words, “I was sent only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel.”

 

And right after Jesus learns of John’s death he goes away to try and be alone and the crowds follow, he teaches them and then does not want to send them away hungry. With five loaves and two fishes how many people are fed? And here is the bonus question – how many basketfuls are left over?

Are we getting the point yet with 12?

 

Now, perhaps it is not too much of a stretch to think of the 12 basketfuls of broken pieces as the crumbs that were leftover, one for each tribe. I am picking up on a theme of abundance.

 

Okay, one last theme in our episode intro, this would have been our Gospel reading from last week – and I don’t know about you but I was more than happy to have Abbey veer off from the lectionary and give us her message! Yet, in the story of Jesus walking on water, summoning Peter to come and walk with him, I would have the cameras zoom in on Peter sinking as Jesus extends a hand and says, my paraphrase, “Man, you have such little faith!”

 

Okay, who is still with me? Did I lose anyone?

 

Jesus sets off for the coast, outside of Israel, he is tired and I imagine the Pharisees have really gotten under his skin, and then she shows up. A Canaanite, that godless group of people who inhabited the land before Israel came in and conquered it. A Canaanite woman, nonetheless, and she is desperate. Her daughter is tormented by a demon and she begins crying out for Jesus’ attention. “Have mercy on me, Lord, Son of David; my daughter is tormented by a demon.” But he did not answer her at all. Jesus just ignores her. And his disciples came and urged him, saying, “Send her away, for she keeps shouting after us.”  Lord, just send her away.

 

Last week Abbey shared with us a profound poem by the Rev. Dr. Pauli Murray. Much of what I am about to share I gleaned from an article in the New Yorker written in April of this year. Pauli Murray, born in 1910, was ahead of her time. She sat in the wrong seat on the bus, participated in nonviolent demonstrations, and advocated for the equal treatment of all persons several decades before the civil rights movement. She began her life as an orphan and culminated it by becoming the first African American woman to be ordained an Episcopal priest. In high school, she was the only black among 4,000 students. She applied to the University of North Carolina and was denied admission because she had the wrong color of skin. Later she was denied admission to Harvard Law because she had the wrong gender.

 

While studying at Howard University Pauli was no longer excluded for the color of her skin but rather due to the fact that she had the unfortunate condition of being born a woman. She was the only woman among faculty and students and on the first day of class her professor was all too eager to humiliate her by remarking that he could think of no reason why a woman would desire to attend Law school. Thus, not only did Pauli resolve to become the top student in her class, which she was, but she also grew in her determination to end what she termed Jane Crow.

 

While at Howard a class discussion arose on how to best end Jim Crow. Plessy vs. Ferguson, the case that upheld segregation, used the phrase “separate but equal.” The class conversation was focused on the term “equal” and the men scoffed when Pauli dared to question the term “separate.” She proceeded to bet her professor $10 that within 25 years Plessy vs. Ferguson would be overturned, Pauli was right. But her law-school professor, Spottswood Robinson, would come to owe Pauli much more than $10. Pauli would go on to argue in her final law school paper that segregation violated the Thirteenth and Fourteenth Amendment of the US Constitution. Years later Spottswood Robinson remembered Pauli’s paper and presented it to Thurgood Marshall and the remainder of his colleagues, the same group who successfully argued Brown vs. the Board of Education.  

 

Now, I would like to propose that Spottswood Robinson and Jesus of Nazareth both share something revolutionary in common. It is not that they both devoted themselves to the cause of justice, nor that they both were committed to advocating for those who society had discounted. Rather, what was revolutionary about these men, and worthy of emulation, is that they both were willing to eat crow. They both were willing to not only admit, but seemingly revel in the fact that a woman had set them straight.

 

Stepping back into our Gospel, up until this point we have grown accustomed to Jesus being the one who stumps the religious leaders, but in our Gospel this morning it this unnamed Canaanite woman who stumps Jesus. “It is not fair to take from the children’s food and throw it to the dogs.” “Yes Lord, but even the dogs eat the crumbs that fall from the Master’s table.” She does not play the victim, she does not need to make Jesus into the villain. Rather, she takes what Jesus gives her and uses it to stump him. She gets creative.  – Jesus, isn’t it God’s table, and isn’t God a God of abundance? Jesus, your reference point is this group of children and you are wondering if there is going to be enough for them. My reference point is the merciful God who created us all, and all I need is a crumb from God’s table and my daughter will be made well. Jesus, isn’t your God bigger than that? And, move over Peter, Jesus looks at this woman and says, “Wow, how great is your faith.”

 

Back in that classroom at Howard University, as those young black men were debating what it means to be treated as equals, the one thing seemingly all men in power held in common, black and white, was that women were not equals. And if it has become hauntingly clear in the recent weeks that we have so much more to overcome for racial equality, let us equally remember how much more we must overcome for gender equality.

 

And just how many people were fed? Was it 5,000? Matthew makes a point of saying “5,000 besides women and children.” So, who was it that decided the women and the children did not count? If 15-20,000 children of God ate and were filled on that afternoon, who decided it was only the men who count? It wasn’t God.

 

God counts those the world counts out.

God counts those who men discount.

We can count on that.

 

Maria Iris Clayton

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Sunrise: 7 February 1920 – Sunset: 28 July 2020

Service Bulletin click here


Service Music click here

Memorial

and

Celebration of Life

Wednesday, 28 July 2021
12:00 P.M.

St. Barnabas Episcopal Church

1062 North Fair Oaks Avenue, Pasadena CA 91103
Brother Anthony Glenn Miller, Celebrant

The fruit of the Spirit is Love, joy, peace, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

Galatians 5:22-23

Maria Iris Clayton

Sunrise: February 7th 1920 in Estrada Limon, Costa Rica

Sunset: July 28th. 2020 in Pasadena CA, USA

Children: Jerry, Elisa(Hunter) and Carlos Clayton

Grandchildren: Karen, Marlon, Kevin, Stephen, Patrick, Candice,

Courtney, Chealsea, and Cameron

Great Grandchildren: Ryan, Mia, Kyle, Emily, Gianna, and

Terrence.

A host of nieces, nephews and loving friends

First Delta Variant COVID-19 Cases in Pasadena Residents Confirmed

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COVID-19 UpdatesNews Releases

PASADENA, Calif.—Pasadena Public Health Department (PPHD) has received the first confirmed reports of the COVID-19 Delta variant infection in six Pasadena residents. The Delta variant was identified in laboratory specimens from these residents through genomic sequence testing. The households infected in Pasadena included a mix of vaccinated and unvaccinated individuals. Through contact tracing, PPHD has linked all of the cases to household exposures. To protect the privacy of the individuals, no further information will be released.

This SARS-CoV-2 virus variant was first identified in India, spreads more easily and quickly than other variants, and likely causes more severe disease based on hospitalizations and case fatality rates. In the state of California, 1,085 cases of the Delta variant have been reported, and as of June 2021, 42.9% percent of all sequenced variant of concern cases are Delta.

“Now is the time for anyone who is not yet vaccinated to get fully vaccinated. Help connect friends and family who are not yet vaccinated to a vaccine opportunity as soon as possible. Current vaccines are effective in protecting against the Delta variant that spreads much more easily than prior variants and is more likely to cause serious disease,” said Dr. Ying-Ying Goh, health officer and director of the Pasadena Public Health Department.

COVID-19 vaccines are proven to be highly effective at preventing hospitalizations and death from COVID-19, and people who are fully vaccinated are also much less likely to be contagious or transmit the virus to someone else. The longer you wait to get vaccinated, the greater the risk of contracting COVID-19 and infecting a friend, loved one, or coworker.

COVID-19 vaccines are available through the Pasadena Public Health Department at no cost. People age 12 years and over are eligible to receive the vaccine. For more information and to register for an appointment, visit MyTurn.ca.gov. Get vaccinated at a PPHD clinic and receive a $20 gift card to a local retailer while supplies last.

Stay connected to the City of Pasadena! Visit us online at www.cityofpasadena.net; follow us on Twitter at @PasadenaGov, and Instagram and Facebook at @CityOfPasadena; or call the Citizen Service Center, 7:30 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday at (626) 744-7311.

COVID-19Delta variantPasadena Public Health Department

Online Youth Ministry Faith Formation Program: Journey to Adulthood

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Church Publishing Incorporated (CPI), the publisher of official worship materials of The Episcopal Church, today announced the release of a revised Journey to Adulthood, an online, subscription-based, downloadable youth ministry program of spiritual formation for 6th through 12th grades. The program was developed by St. Philip’s Episcopal Church in Durham, NC, and updated in collaboration with a team of clergy, youth ministers, and academics with experience in youth faith formation. The updates are based on user input and incorporates best practices in ministry and formation.

“We are pleased to release this much anticipated online and updated version of Journey to Adulthood, which for more than 30 years has served as a bedrock of youth ministry faith formation in The Episcopal Church,” said Airié Stuart, SVP and publisher of CPI.

The revised program is arranged into three two-year modules: Rite 13, J2A, and 4Ward. Each offers lessons organized around self, society, and spirituality and allows youth to explore these themes through discussion, Bible study, games, crafts, and the occasional off-site trip or service project.

Journey to Adulthood revisions include:

  • Standardized lesson formats for ease of use
  • New content that addresses racism, creation care, and times of crisis
  • Stronger biblical, theological, and liturgical foundations, including more content from the Book of Common Prayer
  • A newly revised Rite 13 ceremony, which is fully inclusive of LGBTQIA+ youth
  • J2A lessons on aspects of identity, including race, gender, and sexuality, as well as related issues of privilege and marginalization
  • More class materials for 4Ward (previously “YAC”—Young Adults in the Church)

Individuals can access a free webinar and 14-day trial to help them learn about the program, preview lessons, and discover features such as a planner and calendar by visiting J2A.riteformation.com.

About Church Publishing Incorporated

Founded in 1918 and headquartered in New York City, Church Publishing Incorporated is the publisher of the official worship materials, books, music, and digital ministry resources for The Episcopal Church, in addition to being a multi-faceted publisher and supplier to the broader ecumenical marketplace. churchpublishing.org

About the Church Pension Group

The Church Pension Group (CPG) is a financial services organization that serves The Episcopal Church. It maintains three lines of business—benefits, insurance, and publishing. CPG provides retirement, health, life insurance, and related benefits for clergy and lay employees of The Episcopal Church, as well as property and casualty insurance, and book and music publishing, including the official worship materials of the Church. Follow CPG on FacebookTwitterYouTubeInstagram, and LinkedIncpg.org

Media Contact:

Curtis Ritter
Senior Vice President
Head of Corporate Communications
212-592-1816
critter@cpg.org

Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church

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Westina Matthews compiled and edited “This Band of Sisterhood.” Photo: Scott Townell

[Episcopal News Service] The unique blessings, joys, frustrations, challenges, and realities faced by the first five African American women diocesan bishops in The Episcopal Church are explored in candid conversations in “This Band of Sisterhood: Black Women Bishops on Race, Faith, and the Church,” compiled and edited by Westina Matthews.

Matthews, an adjunct professor at the General Theological Seminary’s Center for Christian Spirituality, wrote in an August 1984 New York Times op-ed article, of her own sense of loneliness as, “the first, the only or one of the few” Blacks, a feeling she began having as early as age 4 when she was enrolled in a newly desegregated school.

Membership in this “exclusive club” continued throughout a 40-year career in leadership positions as an educator, researcher, grant-maker, public servant and author. Committed to education, particularly for women and people of color, she holds bachelor’s, master’s and doctorate degrees in the field—and was the first woman and first person of color to be elected a trustee of the Merrill Lynch Foundation, where she grew the company’s annual charitable giving from $5 million to $35 million.

“Blacks who have worked hard, played by the rules and attained prominent positions,” enjoy this exclusive membership, but “even in the 1980s we are considered anomalies,” she wrote back then in the Times. “We are continually scrutinized and, yes, asked for explanations” as if to have firsthand knowledge about the motives of other African Americans whose actions are less than perfect.

From a long line of African Methodist Episcopal ministers, including her father, uncle and grandfather, her leadership qualities were apparent early, when she ran for president of her Yellow Springs, Ohio, third-grade class—and lost by one vote. She hadn’t voted for herself, an early but enduring life lesson.

Matthews became an Episcopalian about 15 years. She has served on the Trinity Church Wall Street vestry, written three books and numerous articles, and for a decade as an adjunct professor, has taught and supervised prospective spiritual directors at GTS.

A chance conversation in a Colorado airport in 2018 with West Tennessee Bishop Phoebe Roaf became the inspiration for “This Band of Sisterhood.” The book includes frank, vulnerable conversations with Indiana Bishop Jennifer Baskerville-Burrows (consecrated April 29, 2017); Newark Bishop Carlye Hughes (consecrated Sept. 22, 2018); Roaf (consecrated May 4, 2019); Colorado Bishop Kimberly Lucas (May 18, 2019); and Vermont Bishop Shannon MacVean-Brown (Sept. 28, 2019).

The rest of ENS’ interview with Matthews has been condensed and edited into the Q&A below.

ENS: Your experiences run the gamut—preacher’s daughter, teacher, grant-maker, vice president of the Jackie Robinson Foundation, author, spiritual teacher, how do you describe yourself?

Matthews: First and always, I am a PK—a preacher’s kid, a child of God and I’ve been faithful and spent my life living into the call. This has taken me down many different paths. It looks eclectic but there is a divine plan: to love, to serve, to teach, to write, and that’s the call and that’s what I do, and to stay open to paths I might not have considered.

ENS: Is that how This Band of Sisterhood came about?

Matthews: Yes. Bishop Phoebe Roaf and I were attending a Gathering of Leaders meeting in Colorado and we were waiting for ground transportation to the retreat center. At first, I didn’t understand she was a bishop. She told me that Black women clergy really wanted to get the five Black women diocesan bishops together in a conference. I thought it sounded like a book. She asked the other bishops if they would consider it and they all said yes, and then we started.

ENS: This Band of Sisterhood—the women included in the book—are very different, from different places, had different careers and training—a lawyer, interior designer, human resources professional, architectural preservationist—what did you discover about them while working on this book?

Matthews: I had thought about one-on-one interviews, but they wanted to do the book together. They looked forward to being with one another. I realized it was a gift to them as well, that they could come together and share what they were thinking, feeling, experiencing. At the end of each of our meetings, I would ask one of them to pray spontaneously. Bishop Carlye very graciously prayed and talked about this band of sisterhood. She was so grateful to be with women who get it, who she didn’t have to explain things to, during one of the craziest times of her life. I knew when I heard it, that was the title.

Curiously, the very first thing they wanted to talk about was growing up Black in the church. Some grew up in a Black church, some did not, but they shared their formational journey early in their lives.

ENS: How do they view their elections, in most cases, to predominantly white dioceses?

Matthews: It’s not bishop talk. They started right in, talking about being Black women. You can’t untangle it, being a Black woman in the church. They’re prayer warriors, struggling with being leaders. They talked about their concerns and family demands and managing their own self-care during this challenging time—with the pandemic and racial unrest and the election.

ENS: What are some of those challenges?

Matthews: They talk about healing the church and community and having fierce conversations. Bishop Shannon’s brother was arrested in the middle of all of this. He was harassed and arrested during a routine traffic stop because he was driving while Black. I wondered if we should include it in the book and she said yes, tell it, it happened.

Bishop Kym is in an interracial marriage, and she talks about raising biracial children and how she’s helping them understand their responsibility to the Black community.

It’s a great book because it’s their voices, them talking about when we say we are the church, who’s we? And who’s at the table and how do we get more people at the table, how are we a place for everyone?

ENS: What were their similarities?

Matthews: I don’t think any of them thought, initially, that they’d be a priest. Other people saw that in them. But they all shared leadership qualities, early on. Several talked about having no role models, no Black women priests. A couple were very honest about how when they got to college, they decided they were giving up religion and almost walked away from it all.

They talked about their experiences of being in seminary and as new priests. Bishop Shannon was tall and pregnant in seminary and the one other Black woman was short and not pregnant, but everyone kept getting them mixed up. She experienced a lot of racism in seminary, which surprised her. She started praying for whatever church some of those people would be going to. Those experiences are real.

ENS: What else would you like our readers to know?

Matthews: Bishop Jennifer said she wondered if there would be seven now (since the book was conceived, two other African American women have been elected diocesan bishops: Chicago Bishop-elect Paula Clark and Pittsburgh Bishop-elect Ketlen Solak) if it had not been for Presiding Bishop Michael Curry.

The book is dedicated to Bishop Suffragan Barbara Harris, the first woman and first African American woman elected a bishop in The Episcopal Church (and the Anglican Communion). And let’s not forget Bishop Gayle Harris, who succeeded her and who, for 13 years, was all we had. She and Barbara Harris (who passed away in March 2020) are the foremothers that started this band of sisterhood.

 –The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles and an ENS correspondent.

UBE honors Bishop Bruce, Canon Edwards-Acton of the LA Diocese

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Bishop Diane M. Jardine Bruce and her husband, Stephen Bruce, attend the July 17 virtual UBE awards program, where she was honored as an “exemplary ally.”
Suzanne Edwards-Acton was honored by UBE with the Bishop Quintin E. Primo award on Juy 17. Screenshot: Diane Jardine Bruce

[The Episcopal News] The churchwide Union of Black Episcopalians, meeting virtually on July 18 for its annual awards presentation, honored Bishop Diane M. Jardine Bruce with its Exemplary Ally Award, and Canon Suzanne Edwards-Acton with the Bishop Quintin Ebenezer Primo, Jr. Honors Award.

Bruce was elected the first woman bishop suffragan of the Diocese of Los Angeles in December 2009 and ordained in that ministry on May 15, 2010. “Bishop Bruce has worked her entire life to clear pathways for those whose paths may not have been clear to have access to all levels of power and authority in the community and in the church,” the UBE program booklet noted. “She has been a vocal proponent, advocate and support for justice, anti-racism and inclusion. Her work in the area of New Community ministry (formally referred to as multicultural ministry) has stretched across the spectrum of our BIPOC [Black, Indigenous and people of color] communities.” Bruce is a lifetime platinum member of UBE, and also actively supports Chinese, Japanese, Korean, Filipino, Latino and Indigenous ministry throughout the Episcopal Church.

Edwards-Acton, a member of St. Stephen’s Church, Hollywood, received the Bishop Primo award, conferred “for Extraordinary Faithfulness in Pastoral and Prophetic Leadership in Ministry.” She is founder of My Work To Do, “a virtual space for white folk to build stamina for conversations on race” that has been attended by women and men from throughout the Episcopal Church. She is co-chair (with the Rev. John Limo, rector of St. Timothy’s Church, Apple Valley) of the Program Group on Black Ministries for the Diocese of Los Angeles, and vice president of the H. Belfield Hannibal Chapter of UBE. She was co-dean of the UBE Annual Conference in Los Angeles in 2019; in that same year Bishop John Harvey Taylor named her an honorary canon of the Diocese of Los Angeles.

UBE notes: “Her gifts of teaching advocacy for the poor, investment in the lives of young people, multiple avenues of DEI (Diversity, Equity and Inclusion) program development as well as her deep care for UBE has shown she indeed is a pastoral, prophetic leader whose work in the greater Los Angeles community and beyond in the area of DEI has been and will continue to be vital within the church as well as the community at large.”

The Bishop Primo Award “recognizes persons, lay or ordained, whose ministry demonstrates excellence in, passion for and effectiveness in building diverse community (e.g. racial, economic, social, gender, sexuality); faithful demonstration of Christian courage and grace when facing strong opposition to such witness; pastoral wisdom in speaking truth to the Church and to society; and ‘prophetic effectiveness’ (i.e. programs which witness love and justice of God and not simply social reaction to need) in advancing caring ministries to the least and neediest, locally and/or beyond.”

Primo (1913 – 1998) was the first president of the National Union of Black Episcopalians; the first black bishop of Chicago; the first bishop to ordain women priests in that diocese; and the first black Episcopal bishop in the Diocese of Delaware.

Union of Black Episcopalians invites all to ‘outpouring of Spirit’ for churchwide revival

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[Episcopal News Service] The 53rd annual conference of the Union of Black Episcopalians this year will include “a fresh wave of divine love, guidance and power,” in the form of a good old-fashioned revival, and everyone’s invited.

The online churchwide “Lift Every Voice and Sing” gathering July 27-30 will feature 7 p.m. EDT nightly spirited worship; daily noon plenary sessions examining systemic racism, inclusion, and challenges to voting and civil rights; a celebration of the late Rt. Rev. Barbara C. Harris, The Episcopal Church’s first woman bishop; and a commemoration of the 40th publishing anniversary of the African American hymnal whose title is echoed in the revival’s name. It will also memorialize the disproportionate number of African Americans who died from COVID-19.

“Revival has always played an important part in our relationship with God,” said the Very Rev. Kim Coleman, UBE national president. “From the days of Ezekiel when God asked, ‘Can these dry bones live?’ to a frightened, disheartened band of disciples locked away in an upper room, people of faith have hungered for a fresh outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit and a renewal in mission, purpose and identity.”

Coleman and others, including UBE Second Vice President Ayesha Mutope-Johnson, said that the isolation and disproportionate effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, coupled with racially motivated police violence and systemic racism, have created a need for revival.

“The idea is to look at our struggles of today, lament if we want, but consider the strength we have brought into today and that will take us into tomorrow with hope and joy,” Mutope-Johnson said.

Black Episcopalians “have been a gift to The Episcopal Church from the church’s early beginnings,” Coleman added. “This is an opportunity for the wider church to glimpse how people of color live into the faith and worship traditions we all hold dear.”

The revival is a partnership between UBE and the church’s evangelism team, said the Rev. Stephanie Spellers, canon to the presiding bishop for evangelism, reconciliation and creation care, in a letter to UBE members.

“The whole church has so much to learn about opening our hearts to revival and joining God’s ongoing work of transformation and renewal,” Spellers wrote. “Episcopalians and our neighbors all need an extra helping of the Holy Spirit, and this revival will unleash a fresh wave of divine love, guidance and power that will bless our church, our communities and our world.”

Revival, in the Black church, is “a complex dance of repentance, refreshment and rededication,” Spellers wrote. “It is not entertainment. It is a necessity. Especially in 2021, as we continue healing from the twin pandemics of COVID-19 and racism — both of which target and deeply wound people of color — we need revival.

“Especially as many of our Black churches hover at the brink of survival — still unable to gather in our home churches, struggling to sustain aging buildings and aging congregations, within a wider church that has always been ambivalent (at best!) about our presence — we need revival. In this moment, we are claiming that need out loud, and we know Jesus will show up.”

Mutope-Johnson said daily panel discussions and breakout sessions will echo themes from “Lift Every Voice and Sing: A Collection of Afro-American Spirituals and Other Songs,” which has “come to be identified with Black religious worship throughout the African diaspora.”

First published in 1981, the collection was the vision of the late Rt. Rev. Franklin D. Turner, bishop suffragan of Pennsylvania, who desired to produce a worship resource for the whole church that reflected the song tradition of the Black church, according to Mutope-Johnson.

Casey Jones, UBE national youth and young adult committee chair, told ENS he is “super excited” about both the upcoming revival and its youth involvement.

“Revival is an invitation to partner, not just with The Episcopal Church but with God, to reimagine tradition and to engage tradition, Scripture and reason, and chart a way forward,” said Jones. “Revivals are a piece of our collective discernment as a church, for what God’s vision and God’s just future is.”

‘Sing a Song Full of Faith’

Presiding Bishop Michael Curry will preach at the opening Eucharist on July 27 and will headline the July 28 “Sing a Song Full of Faith,” plenary. The session will focus on faith sustained through slavery, Jim Crow laws, the civil rights movement and ongoing systemic racism.

“After the civil rights bills were signed in the 1960s … we thought the struggles were over,” said Ora Houston, a former Austin, Texas, City Council member and a three-time General Convention deputy, who is also a scheduled panelist. “We could live where we wanted, ride the interstate transit, check into hotels and [believed] that we had protections if they refused to serve us. But, we didn’t share our stories with the immediate generation … and here they are facing some of the same injustices in 2021 and yet are not prepared for how to deal with those injustices.”

UBE’s revival comes after the latest audit of race in The Episcopal Church and after Executive Council last month announced the formation of a churchwide truth and reconciliation working group.

Houston, who attended her first General Convention and UBE meeting in 1985, said The Episcopal Church, despite its best efforts at racial audits and resolutions, still continues to be a white-dominated structure. “When those of us that are faithful Episcopalians try to interrupt that, [white] people leave [the conversation]. But we still seem to stay within the denomination and keep praying for and working for the justice and accountability and acknowledgment that we, too, are God’s people.”

“How many audits do we have to have,” she added, “to say, ‘White church, you’ve got to learn how to be an ally’?”

Similarly, the Racial Justice Audit of Episcopal Leadership released April 19 revealed that The Episcopal Church is still perceived by many, if not most, active Episcopalians of color as a white church, said House of Deputies Vice President Byron Rushing, also a panelist for the session.

That revelation prompts the question, Rushing said: “How are we to be ministers to Black people in and out of The Episcopal Church — Black Episcopalians in Black congregations and in integrated and predominately white congregations — and the people of color who surround many of our churches and rarely are invited into our buildings?”

He added: “And how are we missionaries? More and more, I am convinced that our mission field is white people.”

‘Sing a Song Full of Hope’

A plenary on July 29, “Sing a Song Full of Hope,” will focus panelists on such issues as facing the disproportionate effects of COVID-19, racial injustice, police brutality and the systemic assault on voting and civil rights.

Panelists will include the Most Rev. Julio Murray, primate of the Anglican Church in Central America; the Rev. Gayle Fisher-Stewart, a former police captain and rector of St. Luke’s in Washington, D.C.; and the Rev. Altagracia Pérez-Bullard, a Virginia Theological Seminary professor.

The Rev. Landon Moore, priest-in-charge of St. George’s, Brooklyn, New York, who is also a UBE young adult leader and moderator for the session, said he will press panelists to wrestle with such questions as, “Post-George Floyd, how does love get us out of being Black and still being oppressed nowadays? How does one go about loving our neighbor and yet still combatting the horrendous sin of racism? What is a tangible act of love we can do that would combat the sin of racism?”

‘Facing the Rising Sun’

On July 30, a third and final discussion, themed “Facing the Rising Sun,” will focus panelists on issues of inclusion, the dispossessed and the marginalized, and will be moderated by Missouri Bishop Deon Johnson.

“It is my hope that we can and will begin a conversation around the renewal, revival and revitalization of Black communities of faith across The Episcopal Church,” Johnson told ENS via email.

“But conversation alone does not bring renewal. My hope is that the panel discussion will be the beginning of a journey, a reorientation towards sharing the Good News of Jesus Christ as uniquely expressed by the people of the African diaspora in The Episcopal Church.”

The Rev. Kim Jackson, the first lesbian elected to the Georgia State Senate, also will be a panelist. She said she wants to talk about the church’s “role as a people who follow Christ in making sure we create a system and, ultimately, a state or a nation or a world in which justice reigns.”

“I’ll talk about that from the lens of being a faith leader who engages with local elected officials, whether school board or state senators, to try to make sure that we do things like provide health care and housing to folks,” she said.

As vicar of the Church of the Common Ground in Atlanta, “a community of people experiencing homelessness, I very much feel that is the other place where the church must be,” Jackson said. “We cannot only stand and use our power in the halls of power. We must be in solidarity and relationship with people on the margins. The church is at its best when we are in both places.”

Vermont Bishop Shannon MacVean-Brown also will serve as a guest preacher. “As pandemic life begins to shift from emergency mode to reemergence, this is our chance,” she said, and people need revival more than ever.

“We’ve learned lessons about ourselves and expanded our hopes for justice even while we lived through such a devastating time,” MacVean-Brown said. “I’ve been praying we would not go back to what was, except I find myself more hopeful about our ability to be a more authentic and creative church since we’ve gone back to some basics.

“Our life together has been centered around the Bible, prayer and the fact that the church really isn’t a building, it is people. As we return, may we be revived for the work ahead. As much as I wish we could be together in person to sing, pray and encourage one another, I’m grateful for the real celebration we will have during the online revival.”

All are welcome. Registration continues through July 27.

The UBE’s annual business meeting — typically held in conjunction with the conference — is themed “Marching on Till Victory Is Won,” and is planned for July 17.

– The Rev. Pat McCaughan is a priest in the Diocese of Los Angeles and a longtime ENS correspondent.

In Haiti, Episcopalians stand at intersection of pandemic, political violence

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[Episcopal News Service] Despite the increasing incidence of COVID-19 in the country and the ever-increasing violence in the nine days since Haitians awoke to the news that President Jovenel Moïse had been assassinated, Episcopalians there are trying to serve their communities.

“Well before the assassination, gang activity, kidnappings and killings were on the rise,” Kenneth H. Quigley, president of the board of St. Vincent’s Center for Children with Disabilities in Port-au-Prince, told supporters via email on July 14. “The violence threatens not only the individual safety of all Haitians, but also exacerbates food insecurity, limits access to fuel and other essential consumables. It threatens the progress of many of our Haitian partners who work with great resolve in the face of uncertainty, including the staff at St. Vincent’s. The daily suffering of Haitian citizens is unimaginable, and has worsened, particularly in the last three years.”

People are scared by the increasing threat of violence, the Rev. Markendy Jean said recently via WhatsApp. Writing to Dianne Pizey, who chairs the Haiti Committee at St. John’s Episcopal Church in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Jean added that in Gressier “businesses and the supermarket are open” but people are watchful about possible violence.

Jean is the rector of St. Philippe and St. Jacques parish, whose school St. John’s helps support.

Gressier is west of Port-au-Prince, the Haitian capital. The Episcopal Diocese of Haiti is numerically the largest of The Episcopal Church’s 109 dioceses.

St. John’s partnership with St. Philippe and St. Jacques parish began in 2007. The church raises $22,000 a year to pay the salaries of teachers in the parish’s school. Classes have been disrupted for the past two years because of the pandemic and the political violence. St. John’s has still been paying the teachers, Pizey said.

St. Philippe and St. Jacques’ school is part of an extensive network run by the diocese to educate Haitians from preschool to university level. Haitians could not turn to the internet for online instruction.

“Many higher institutions have tried to give online courses but with great difficulty,” the Rev. Kesner Ajax recently told ENS. His efforts to teach at the diocese’s theological seminary have been hampered by the weakness and quality of the internet. The same is true for the rest of the diocese’s schools,” said Ajax who coordinates the diocese’s partnership efforts.

Pizey told ENS on July 15 that she and others from St. John’s have been unable to travel to Haiti for the last three years because of the violence. The main national highway between Port-au-Prince and the Léogâne-Gressier area has become too dangerous because of gun violence and kidnappings, she said. Still, Dr. Frantz Codio, the Haiti director of Haiti Companions, recently told Pizey that he still travels over the road once a month to buy medical supplies in the capital. Codio said the organization still runs its monthly clinics in Collin, Jasmin and Ti Boukon, villages up the mountain from Gressier.

Haiti Companions developed out of the relationships that St. John’s and another church in Atlanta had with St. Philippe and St. Jacques. What began as twice-yearly clinics staffed by American volunteers has grown into a Haitian-run operation of monthly medical and dental clinics in each area that annually treat about 3,000 people.

The clinics began offering face masks early in the pandemic.

Haiti’s instability has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The country had seemingly avoided the worst of the pandemic until recently. Johns Hopkins University’s COVID-19 tracker shows 19,374 confirmed cases and 487 deaths as of July 15. However, health experts say that those numbers are major undercounts.

Among those deaths are three Episcopal leaders. The Rev. Lucien Bernard and the Rev. Robert Joseph, the rector and vice-rector of the Episcopal University of Haiti respectively, both died of COVID-19 days apart in early June. The Rev. Fritz LaFontant, 94, a veritable icon of the diocese, succumbed to the disease on June 28. LaFontant was a founding member of Partners In Health and founding director of Zanmi Lasante, Haiti’s largest health care provider outside of the government and based in Cange in the central plateau.

Their deaths were followed by the death from liver failure of the Rev. David Cesar, the head of music school at Holy Trinity and the director of L’Orchestre Philharmonique in Port-au-Prince.

Until recently, Haiti was the only country in the Western Hemisphere without any COVID-19 vaccines. It reportedly missed a paperwork deadline this spring to receive 760,000 AstraZeneca shots from Covax, the global vaccine-sharing effort. Plus, the country’s health ministry said it was worried about AstraZeneca’s side effects and how it would store and administer the required two shots, saying it preferred a one-shot vaccine. Covax announced July 15 that a shipment of 500,000 Moderna doses donated by the United States had reached Haiti.

Zanmi Lasante remembers Father Fritz Lafontant, who died on June 28 at his home in Haiti. Lafontant was a priest, lifelong advocate for the marginalized, and a founding member of Partners In Health, and founding director of Zanmi Lasante.
“It’s with great sadness, but great pride, that we share the news of Father Fritz Lafontant’s passing. He succumbed to COVID-19 in his home, surrounded by his family, his household, and his closest friends. The reason for our sadness is obv…
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Episcopalians are offering help. Episcopal Relief & Development partnered with the diocese in 2020 on an emergency response program to distribute 3,316 reusable masks to several communities. The masks were all made locally in Haiti through a grant with Episcopal Relief & Development. The organization also worked with the diocese, in collaboration with Haiti’s Ministry of Health, on COVID-19 prevention messaging in the same communities.

Ajax told ENS that the diocese received a $40,000 pandemic relief grant from The Episcopal Church’s Executive Council for churches to buy hand sanitizers, soap, bleach and water containers to put at the entrance of their buildings.

The country’s violence and the pandemic have prevented the diocese from electing a new bishop to succeed Bishop Jean Zaché Duracin, who retired March 1, 2019. The Very Rev. Joseph Kerwin Delicat, dean of Holy Trinity Cathedral in Port-au-Prince, was elected coadjutor in June 2018. However, the validity of the election was challenged. Delicat eventually did not receive the necessary consents from the church’s dioceses and bishops.

Bishop Todd Ousley, who heads the church’s Office of Pastoral Development that assists dioceses with bishop searches, told ENS that Haiti has not been able to schedule a new election because of the pandemic, government instability and civil unrest, and the challenges of power outages and lack of reliable internet or other communication mechanisms.

“Despite these monumental challenges, the Standing Committee (continuing to act as Ecclesiastical Authority) has met the challenges with grace, even in the face of challenges to some members whose terms expired in January without convention elections,” Ousley said. Those terms are continuing until elections can be held, he said.

Many Haitians and their supporters would like to see the country use the crises to move Haiti from what many call an “aid state” dependent on billions of dollars in foreign aid to one that can stand on its own feet in peace. One recently formed group, the Commission for a Haitian Solution to the Crisis, includes a diocesan representative. The group met  July 13 in a Pétionville restaurant near where the president was assassinated.

During a July 12 Episcopal Church webinar titled “Haiti Below the Surface: Challenge and Opportunity,” Alan Yarbrough a church relations officer in the Washington, D.C.-based Office of Government Relations said all of Haiti’s challenges must be considered holistically when envisioning the country’s future.

Yarborough, who served as a Young Adult Service Corps volunteer in Haiti and now chairs the church’s Haiti Advocacy Working Group, said, “international actors like the U.S. must not silo these sectors in such a way that it limits the imagination or sidelines local actors who are already hard at work.”

Before leading a prayer to close the webinar, Ousley said that The Episcopal Church needs to heed that advice as well. “Our history, which is a long one of over 150 years of engagement with the church in Haiti, is one of not listening as carefully as we should,” he said. “We’ve learned painfully the price we pay when we don’t listen and impose our ideas rather than entering into partnership with the people of Haiti.”

– The Rev. Mary Frances Schjonberg retired in July 2019 as senior editor and reporter for Episcopal News Service.

Salud y Fuerza en la Comunidad XVI

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16 de julio del 2021

Para el pueblo de la Diócesis Episcopal de Los Ángeles:

Iniciando en la media noche del sábado, en respuesta a un incremento alarmante de infecciones de COVID-19 atribuidas a la variante Delta, el Condado de Los Ángeles está requiriendo que todos y todas utilicen cubrebocas dentro de lugares públicos. Si desea puede leer más acerca de la regulación aquí.

Pido que todos los que asisten a las misiones y parroquias en el Condado de Los Ángeles cumplan fielmente con esta regulación, que aplica tanto a aquellos y aquellas que dirigen el servicio como a los que se encuentran en asistencia. La regulación no requiere que se deje de cantar o se mantenga distanciamiento social (excepto para aquellos y aquellas que no están vacunados, a quienes se les requiere utilicen el cubrebocas y el distanciamiento social). Si usted asiste a una iglesia en los condados de Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, o Ventura, favor de considerar actuar en el espíritu de la regulación de Los Ángeles y de manera voluntaria utilizar su cubrebocas dentro de la iglesia y en otros lugares públicos.

Las autoridades sospechan que muchos de los que no han sido vacunados han dejado de utilizar sus cubrebocas. Esta regulación está diseñada para protegerles a ellos. Estoy seguro de que todos tienen opiniones con respecto a las personas que deciden no vacunarse y especialmente con respecto a aquellos no vacunados que han elegido no usar cubrebocas. Pero de manera especial cuando hay vidas en riesgo, evitemos el juzgar. El actuar para el beneficio y seguridad de nuestro prójimo es la esencia del evangelio de nuestro Señor Jesucristo.

Mis compañeros y compañeras peregrinos, ustedes han actuado de manera espléndida a través de la pandemia. Yo se que este contratiempo es decepcionante. Pero recuerden lo lejos que hemos llegado, como hemos podido mantenernos en comunidad, y cuan maravilloso se siente el estar juntos de nuevo. El camino a la tierra prometida siempre tiene desvíos y giros, baches y topes. Una vez más: Sigamos el curso y hagamos todo lo posible para hacer de cada día un Día de Resurrección ayudando a mantener las tumbas vacías.

Suyos en el amor de Cristo,

El Rvdmo. John Harvey Taylor
VII Obispo de Los Ángeles
jtaylor@ladiocese.org

La Asamblea de Consejos del Obispo Sobre Nuestro Regreso Seguro a la Presencia Física:

El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Michael Bamberger
El Muy Reverendo Peter Browning
La Reverendísima Diane M. Jardine Bruce
El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Tom Carey
El Muy Reverendo Canonigo Ian Davies
El Muy Reverendo Canónigo William Dunn
El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Gabriel Ferrer
El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Mark Kowalewski
El Muy Reverendo Canónigo Gregory Larkin
La Muy Reverenda Canóniga Jeannie Martz
La Reverenda Canóniga Melissa McCarthy
La Reverendo Thomas Quijada-Discavage
La Muy Reverenda Jeanette Repp
El Muy Reverendo Keith Yamamoto
El Canónigo Richard Zevnik

Health & Strength in Community XVI

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To the people of the Episcopal Diocese of Los Angeles:

Beginning at midnight on Saturday, in response to an alarming rise in COVID-19 infections attributable to the Delta variant, the County of Los Angeles is requiring everyone to wear masks inside in public places. You can read more about the ruling here.

I ask all who attend our Los Angeles County missions and parishes to abide faithfully by this ruling, which applies to those conducting as well as attending worship. The ruling does not require us to stop singing or socially distance (except for those who aren’t vaccinated, who are required to socially distance as well as wear their masks). If you attend a church in Orange, Riverside, San Bernardino, Santa Barbara, or Ventura county, please consider acting in the spirit of the Los Angeles ruling and voluntarily wear your mask in church and other public places.

Authorities suspect that many non-vaccinated people have stopped wearing masks. The ruling is designed to protect them. I am sure that everyone has opinions about people choosing not to be vaccinated and especially those who aren’t vaccinated choosing not to wear masks. But especially when lives are at stake, ours is not to judge. Making this gesture for the sake and safety of others is the essence of the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ.

My fellow pilgrims, you have been magnificent throughout the pandemic. I know this setback is disappointing. But remember how far we have come, how we have stayed in community, and how wonderful it feels to be together again. The road to the promised land always has twists and turns, bumps and potholes. Once again: Let’s stay the course and do all we can to make each day an Easter Day by helping keep tombs empty.

Yours in Christ’s love,

The Rev. Rev. John Harvey Taylor
VII Bishop of Los Angeles
jtaylor@ladiocese.org

The Bishop’s Council of Advice on Our Safe Return to Physical Presence

The Very Rev. Canon Michael BambergerThe Very Rev. Peter BrowningThe Rt. Rev. Diane M. Jardine BruceThe Very Rev. Tom CareyThe Very Rev. Canon Ian DaviesThe Very Rev. Canon William DunnThe Very Rev. Gabriel FerrerThe Very Rev. Canon Mark KowalewskiThe Very Rev. Canon Gregory LarkinThe Very Rev. Jeannie MartzThe Rev. Canon Melissa McCarthyThe Rev. Thomas Quijada-DiscavageThe Very Rev. Jeanette ReppThe Very Rev. Keith YamamotoCanon Richard Zevnik

FORMA – Embodying Spiritual Practices

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Forma | A Ministry of ECF, is the Network for Christian Formation for the Episcopal Church and beyond. We have members from across the United States, Canada, Mexico, South America, and Europe. We work ecumenically with several denominations including the Lutheran, Methodist, Presbyterian, Moravian, and Catholic communities.

LEADERSHIP

OUR CORE VALUES

Forma | A Ministry of ECF is a community of…

  • Love and Care: We share God’s love and care for others by fostering connection, celebration, hospitality, and reconciliation.
  • Creativity and Wonder: We explore God’s creation with curiosity by encouraging openness, playfulness and stewardship.
  • Formation and Education: We equip the saints for ministry by forming Christian leaders who will shape the Church.
  • Integrity and Dignity: We act with authenticity and integrity by respecting the dignity of every human being.
  • Honor and Call: We discern and honor the gifts God has given each of us by listening and answering God’s call.

MISSION, VALUES AND VISION

FAITH @ HOME

Our faith is not just something we check in with on Sundays; our faith is how we live lives of meaning and purpose every day of the week, if we will learn to notice and respond to how God is moving.

VISIT THE FAITH @ HOME SITE

GOOD BOOK CLUB

The Good Book Club is an invitation to all Episcopalians to join in reading the Gospel of Matthew during Easter 2020. Episcopalians will read a section every day through the Easter season. In surveys taken before and after the first Good Book Club project in 2018 (reading the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts), participants reported growth in their understanding of scripture and a deepening of their prayer life. Perhaps most significantly, the percentage of people who reported reading the Bible on a daily basis increased to 73 percent at the end of the first Good Book Club reading, from 45 percent when it began. Already, individuals, congregations, and organizations have committed to being a part of the Good Book Club, and we hope you’ll join the journey too!

VISIT THE GOOD BOOK CLUB SITE

WAY OF LOVE

IMPORTANT UPDATE FROM OUR PRESIDING BISHOP

In the midst of this COVID-19 pandemic, we are now at another one of those threshold moments…

WAY OF LOVE

MEMBERSHIP

Forma has members from many different backgrounds. We have options for everyone’s ministry context.

JOIN FORMA

NEWSLETTER

Forma’smonthlynewsletter provides important information to the Forma Membership.

FORMA NEWSLETTER